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The Campaign to Stop Junk Email

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Junk Email Advice for Businesses


On This Page

  • Why You Shouldn't Advertise by Email Guidance for current and potential Internet marketers
  • What ISPs Can Do Advice for Internet Service Providers

  • Why You Shouldn't Advertise by Bulk Email

    Guidance for Internet Marketers

    If you feel like emailing an unrequested commercial advertisement, stop right now and slap yourself in the face really hard. Remember that, unlike regular snail-mail, the recipient pays for incoming email, and the sender doesn't. It is really tacky to send advertisements postage-due. I will never buy anything from you if you advertise this way, even if I am dying of thirst and yours is the only brand of beverage carried by the Death Valley Convenience Store. And I'm not alone.

    You would never dream of mailing an advertising circular with postage-due. You wouldn't try collect-call telemarketing. Why would you think the people will buy stuff from you if you send them junk email? By junk emailing, you'll offend and alienate far more people than you attract.

    Understand that "push"-style advertising is resented by all Internet users, especially by the Internet veterans, who have the knowledge, means, and the will to do something about it. You will very likely be victimized by angry recipients, who may publicly embarrass you (on the Internet, everyone can hear you scream), boycott your products and services (and tell others to do the same--check out theNet Advertiser's Blacklist. Your potential customers will.), get your account yanked by your service provider, call any phone numbers included in the junk email to complain (especially 800 numbers), send 17-foot-long black faxes to any included fax numbers (burning out the thermal head), and anything else that a surprisingly creative and vindictive bunch of angry Net denizens can dream up. This is really not a group you want to provoke--note that the examples above are all things that have actually been done to junk emailers and/or spammers.

    If, in spite of all of these warnings, you send me junk email, be warned that I reserve the right to publish it, ridicule it, complain to you and your system administrator, call you mocking names, stick sharp pins into a little doll that looks like you, and, most importantly, bill you for time spent dealing with it. Sending me unsolicited commercial email indicates acceptance of these terms. You have been warned.

    Of course, that's only if I can find you, and although there are many tools available to track where email comes from, the truly clever junk emailer may be able to successfully avoid identification through email. But you have to give some way of contact you In Real Life, or else I couldn't buy your product or service. And you should stop to think that, if you need to go though all that effort to avoid retribution from angry potential customers, perhaps this isn't such a great marketing idea after all.

    There are plenty of great ways to market your business on the Internet without resorting to junk email, including properly-announced and promoted Web pages, running an email responder services, and maintaining a friendly and helpful presence on related Usenet groups. Advice on these marketing techniques is beyond the scope of this document, but an excellent starting point is the Netogether home page. Here are some other resources potential Internet advertisers should check out:

    What ISPs Can Do

    I recommend that Internet Service Providers include specific, clear language in their service agreement contracts addressing the problem of junk email. This can help you avoid being caught between the complaints of irate victims and your junk-emailing customer's threats to sue you. All you have to do is make it clear in your contract that unsolicited commercial mass-mailing is grounds for terminating access, and have all new and current customers sign it. Then there will be no pesky lawsuits when you pull the plug.

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    Last Updated:
    Thursday, June 1, 2000
    at 9:26 AM by JCR

    Copyright ©2000 John C. Rivard.
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